While waiting impatiently for the latest of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels to arrive in Kindle format, I took a chance on Simon R. Green. Amazon is always suggesting him to me and really, if Amazon doesn’t know what I like, who does?
Green’s protagonist is John Taylor, a half-human, half-?; his mother ‘wasn’t quite human,’ but he doesn’t know much about her beyond that, other than the revelation that looking for her may trigger an apocalyptic event. Taylor is a private detective who can find anything. Using his third eye. His (wait for it)
I took a chance and … I’m still not sure how I feel about these books. Green’s style leaves me cold. Sometimes I pick up a book and find myself immediately identifying with the characters, and even when I’m not actively reading the book, I’m turning the plot points over in my head. (For example, Tana French‘s books.) Green didn’t do that for me. I’ve been told his style is very “Maltese Falcon,” and since I had no idea what was until I Googled it just now, it may very well be that Mr. Falcon and I are not in fact compatible, regardless of what Amazon thinks. Knowing now that this is supposed to be in the style of a “hard-boiled” detective story, Green’s overall writing style makes sense, but I still found it grating. He puts me in mind of Garrison Keilor’s Guy Noir. (I was half expecting to see ads for the Ketchup Advisory Board.) Particularly in the first novel, which to be fair did a yeoman’s job of setting up the hero’s background, every time Taylor opens his mouth he turns into Captain Exposition. Some may love the rhythm of this kind of writing. I was mostly annoyed.
However, I will give him bonus points for the following description of a character named Shotgun Susie (aka Susie Shooter):
“Oh, she’s all that and more, is Suzie,” I said, smiling. “She tracks down runaway villains like a hunter on the trail of big game. There’s nowhere they can hide that she won’t go after them, no protection so overwhelming that she won’t go charging right in, guns blazing. Not the most subtle of people, Suzie, but definitely the most determined. No job ever turned down, no target ever too dangerous, if the price is right. Susie’s been known to use every kind of gun known to man, as well as a few she’s had made up specially, but mostly she favours the pump-action shotgun. You can usually tell where she’s been, because it’s on fire. And you can track her down by following the kicked-in doors, scattered screaming and blood splashed up the walls. Her presence can start a fight, or stop one dead. Hell of a woman.”
Simon R. Green, Something from the Nightside